The new USFL could have a significant hiccup before its scheduled launch this April, as a group of executives from the old United States Football League, which folded in the mid-1980s, alleges copyright infringement on the part of new owners Fox Sports in a lawsuit filed in California on Monday, according to a report by the Associated Press.
The former league ran from 1983-85. The revival uses both the USFL name and an essentially identical logo. Additionally, all eight teams for the new league scheduled to start this spring are taken from the predecessor, though some have updated logos.
The Pittsburgh Maulers are one of those teams. The Maulers played in Pittsburgh for just one season in 1983, but were part of the revived brand. The eight-team league will play all regular-season games in Birmingham, Alabama in 2022, with the playoffs and championship game scheduled for Canton, Ohio. The league has not announced future plans to have teams play in their home cities
According to the AP, the former owners and executives that filed suit claim that Fox Sports failed to properly secure the old league’s intellectual property rights and are seeking to prevent the new league from calling itself the USFL or using the names and likenesses of teams from the 1980s.
The USFL held its player draft last week and teams are expected to report to Birmingham, Alabama for training camp this month, with the first game scheduled for April 16.
The new USFL is the third spring football league to gain widespread traction in recent years, but both the Alliance of American Football in 2019 and the revived XFL in 2020 failed to complete one full season of play. The AAF ran into financial difficulties and the XFL’s first season fell apart amid the COVID-19 pandemic. That league has scheduled a 2023 re-launch.